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Jennifer Gelhaus has always been before her time. She started college early at the tender age of 16, after being recruited from her native Venezuela to play Division II tennis here in the United States. She left home and took a chance. She took a step into college coaching before moving to Long Island and serving as Director of Juniors at one of the most prestigious clubs in the nation, Maidstone Club. Now, she’s taken a leap once again, and has moved on to become Director of Tennis at East Chop on Martha’s Vineyard. In her second year, she shares with us some of her secrets of success.
Success In Business Is Crucial For Tennis Directors
Her success lies not only in her forehand and instruction, but, perhaps even more so, in her acumen as a business woman.
“This is the thing. People don’t really view the club tennis industry as a business. That’s a problem. This is one of the reasons, too, that I didn’t envision this for myself growing up. People don’t understand what we do. We are not just teaching tennis all day. There’s a lot that goes going into running a club. Its very different to be on a court teaching forehands all day.” We are not sure anyone could better educate a board or a membership than Ms. Gelhaus.
How To Build A Program? Communication
For Jennifer, it’s not about being on the court. It’s all about communicating to your members. Servicing the many different needs of a membership is a top priority. “But if you don’t communicate your business you’re not promoting your programs, and if you are not promoting your business, you will not get people on the court,” says one of the leading Tennis Directors in New England, if not the nation. From texting to emails to newsletters, Jennifer is in constant touch with her East Chop membership. With every club-wide newsletter or communication, Jennifer receives up to 10 lesson requests.
Availability To Members Is Essential
“I love tennis, but I don’t love being on court all day. I don’t have any desire to do that,” remarks Gelhaus. She wisely discusses how hours on the court stop her from engaging with her members. If she has 10 hours on court maybe she influenced a dozen, she says. “If you don’t have that contact off court with your members, you are only influencing 6 people in a clinic or a few during privates,” but you are not working with the other 600 members of your club, she believes.